Autism Recovery Is Impossible. Like, Everything About It Is Impossible

So garlic and onion are gone from Martin’s diet, along with all tomato, peppers, eggplant, nightshades in general, and (hen) eggs. At least for the time being.

You may remember that a couple weeks ago Martin visited a (second) naturopath/allergist, who deemed Martin sensitive to phenols in those foods. He recommended that they go away for about six months, while we treat the sensitivities.

Well, that’s impossible, I thought at the time. We’re so restricted already, and my taste strategy consists of 90% garlic, 8% onion, and 2% whatever else winds up in the mixing bowl. No way I can lose garlic and onion.

This afternoon, as I modified a vegetable chowder recipe to make it garlic-free, I realized that what I melodramatically deem impossible seldom is. In a very short time, cooking without garlic and onion has become second nature. I’ve found ways to substitute. For onion, I try to consider the overall composition of the dish, what flavor I’m shooting for—fortunately, I have rather imprecise aim—and whether celery might not work, or the sharper celeriac, or another root vegetable like a turnip or a parsnip. And while I do miss my trusty sidekick garlic, its absence has prompted me to experiment more with my spice rack’s eager understudies like white pepper (doesn’t fall under the pepper prohibition) and fenugreek. Yes, my recipes taste different. But no, they do not suck. Or at least not enough that Martin has noticed.

I intimated in an earlier post that every step of this process began as impossible. Long before we radicalized Martin’s diet, before we even came to understand that recovery is possible, Adrian and I heard about mainstream medicine’s lone concession to diet’s effect on autism: that a gluten-free diet, for reasons allegedly unknown, may benefit some persons on the spectrum. Back then, I thought going gluten-free would be so difficult, so monumtenally life-changing, that I would at best give it a try for a month, then abandon the effort if I saw insufficient results.

Then we radicalized, and our consultant Kathleen was explaining to me that we’re not talking just gluten-free. We need to be thinking grain-free (impossible). Corn-free (impossible). Soy-free (we’re vegetarians; we love soy). Nearly fruit-free. Starchy vegetable-free. You get the picture.

Back then, my heart sank as Kathleen spoke. I trembled at the thought of what might go next.

Yet here we are. Pancakes without flour or eggs? Give me some cauliflower, spices, and duck eggs. I’ll get it done. Hummus without garbanzos or garlic? I’m on it.

We’re facing new challenges these days, as I delve deeper into what it takes to make our home safe for a child living on the spectrm with its attendant sensitivities. Commercially available household cleaners, other than crunchy-granola natual stuff, went first. The wireless phones are gone; I actually have to sit down at a desk when I want to talk. Blackberries are off, when possible. Tap water is fltered twice before it passes Martin’s lips. No fluoride toothpaste. No plastic utensils or storage containers in the kitchen. No microwave. No aluminum foil.

But we still have a wireless internet router, and a wireless printer/scanner/fax. I haven’t yet had the apartment tested for electromagnetic fields. And we live in New York City. Even setting aside the omnipresent aroma of car exhaust and doubtless gazillons of satellite waves beaming through our home, we have construction, and construction dust, on three sides of us right now.

It’s all impossible.

2 thoughts on “Autism Recovery Is Impossible. Like, Everything About It Is Impossible

  1. It’s so overwhelming. I get exhausted thinking about this. A few therapists once recommended we try restrictive diets and I just mentally shut down at the thought…falls into my knee-jerk denial category: I don’t feel like dealing with it, therefore it probably wouldn’t work.

    • Sometimes, actually, I wonder whether I’m doing anyone a favor by posting the extent of Martin’s treatment. I think it can look intimidating if you’re not in precisely the right spot to deal with diets and pills and therapists, etc. I hope to encourage anyone interested in pursuing recovery to do whatever s/he can, however much or little. That being said, I can also tell you that the diet becomes second nature. It’s tough that we can’t really eat out with Martin these days. On the other hand, at home, it just is what it is. Not too bad anymore.

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